Texas Tribune: “Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday afternoon that Texas’ main power grid ‘is better today than it’s ever been’ — even as residents were on their third consecutive day of being asked to reduce electricity use.”
$250 Million Could Be Used to Shore Up Failing Electric Grid After 2.4 Million Texas Homes Lost Power Two Weeks Ago, Or Give Financial Relief To Texans Who Paid Tens Of Thousands In Utility Bills During February Winter Storm
The Texas electric grid is in crisis. But instead of leaping into action to shore up the outdated and underfunded system, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is holding a series of campaign stunts with Donald Trump and GOP House Members to promote his plan to divert $250 million of taxpayer money to build an ineffective border wall.
Tomorrow’s media blitz comes two weeks after Texas residents were asked to conserve electricity for the third straight day as power outages plagued 2.4 million homes across the state — a direct result of the power grid unable to keep up with demand in the extreme summer heat.
It’s not hard to see why Texas is still having problems. Experts say that the recent so-called reforms that Abbott and the Republican legislature made after the state lost power a few months ago due to extreme weather simply do not go far enough:
- Reporter for the Associated Press, Paul J. Weber: “Energy experts disagree, saying that although lawmakers made significant changes that include mandates to ‘weatherize’ power plants for extreme temperatures and new processes to avert communication failures, the reforms do not go far enough to assure a similar catastrophe won’t happen again in one of America’s most booming states.”
- Professor of Environmental Engineering at Rice University, Daniel Cohan: “It’s hard to see how this provides full coverage of the winterization that we need.”
- Politics Writer for Texas Monthly, Andrea Zelinski: “Not everyone shared Abbott’s conviction that the bills that did pass were comprehensive enough to prevent future grid failure, including the man who had carried SB 2 and SB 3 through the House, Chris Paddie.”
- House Author of SB 3, Chris Paddie (R-TX-9), at bill signing ceremony: “There’s more to be done.”
- Politics Writer for Texas Monthly, Andrea Zelinski: “Five former Public Utility Commission commissioners made twenty recommendations for actions that go beyond what the Legislature did this year—including requiring weatherization of a larger pool of natural gas plants.”
- Consumer Advocate and Former Head of the Office of Public Utility Counsel of Texas, Jim Boyle: “Nothing was done to figure out how we get the electricity reserves that are necessary to meet the requirements of an extreme weather event.”
Further, Abbott’s decision to use $250 million of taxpayer money for a border wall comes as thousands of Texans were charged tens of thousands of dollars in utility bills after price spikes during February’s winter storm and the Public Utility Commission of Texas chose to let the charges stand.
Here are a few of their stories:
- Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran living in a Dallas suburb, had to empty his savings account to pay a $16,752 electricity bill – 70 times what he usually pays for all of his utilities combined.
- Katrina Tanner of Nevada, Texas said she’d been charged $6,200 in February, more than five times what she paid in all of 2020.
- New York Times: “Mr. Willoughby is among scores of Texans who have reported skyrocketing electric bills as the price of keeping lights on and refrigerators humming shot upward.”
As Senior Adviser to Julián Castro and People First Future PAC, Sawyer Hackett stated: “Governor Greg Abbott says Texas will spend $250,000,000 on a ‘down payment’ for a state border wall…The state has spent $0 to help Texans pay the $18B surge in utility bills.”